Survival skills Wildlife expert shares 5 simple bush craft skills to employ the next time you encounter a clan of 'laughing' hyenas

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Female spotted hyenas have a penis that can grow up to seven inches long, totally besting the average length of the human penis.

play A spotted hyena (masengwa1)

Possessing powerful jaws enough to kill with one single bite and reduce bones to power, Hyenas are one of the most dangerous and intelligent land animals.

Hyenas have extremely strong jaws that are capable of quickly and easily grinding down bones and according to scientific sources, hyena bite is around 1100 psi, but Wikipedia says it is 11,400.

play A spotted hyena. (Travel Africa Magazine)


Their powerful bite rivals even Lion’s and Tiger’s whose bite pressure is 600 psi and 1050 psi respectively.

Hyenas are highly intelligent, social animals who are generally known as scavengers, although in truth they are formidable predators.

They do frequently steal fresh kills from lions, leopards and cheetahs.

play Male Lion fighting Hyenas for stealing food In South Africa . (YouTube)


Hyenas can weigh as much as 190 pounds and will attack humans, especially if they are perceived to be hurt, sick or incapacitated.

Interestingly enough, though they look like dogs the hyena is actually more closely related to cats, belonging to the suborder feliformia instead of the dog suborder caniformia.


Female spotted hyenas have a pseudo-penis that is basically an elongated clitoris. Some pseudo-penises can grow up to seven inches long, totally besting the average length of the human penis

play Spotted hyena sleep in dens. (natgeokids)

They don’t have a dark sense of humour and aren’t actually ‘laughing’

First of all, not every hyena chuckles. Among the four species of hyenas, only the spotted hyenas ‘laugh'.

There are four species of hyenas; spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), stripped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) and Aardwolf (Proteles cristata).

Contrarily to what most people believe Hyenas don’t have a dark sense of humour and aren’t actually laughing.

Spotted hyenas have a rich vocal repertory; they emit about a dozen distinct vocalizations, most of which can be modulated in various ways to alter their meaning to listeners.

They are often called “laughing hyenas” because their giggle vocalization sounds very much like hysterical human laughter.


play An Hyena 'laughing' (thinglink)

The giggle is a loud, high-pitched rapid series of staccato “hee-hee-hee” sounds, they give as an indication of age and social status.

They usually make these giggling sounds when i n some kind of social conflict, such as fighting for food.

Our perception of their laughter is an unconscious act of projecting a human emotion onto their non-human behavior, typically to make sense of their actions.

Business Insider SSA spoke with Kenya’s elephant man and wild life expert, Jim Justus Nyamu who has walked the breath of this earth teaching communities about conservation of wild life and we cannot survive with elephants through his #IvoryBelongstoElephants campaign.

He is actually preparing for a walk from Nairobi to J'Burg covering approximately 4000km this June and he is looking for support.

play A clan of Hyenas. (Science)

He has come face to face with hyenas and survived to tell the tale.

“My first walk between Mombasa and Nairobi between Manyani and Mtito Andei I encountered a pack of nine hyenas and I was just alone and what I did with my bush craft training I just crawled and just behaved like an antelope, six crossed the road and three were left standing on the other side what saved me was an incoming vehicle but I was ready to do anything although I could have done nothing since these are three hyenas and i only needed one to get hold of me and I would be finished.

Also read: The top 10 strangest animals in Africa that you've probably never heard of

So the next time you encounter a clan of Hyenas, here is what you need to do.

#1. Check time

play A spotted hyena resting with her cub (Pinterest)


Hyenas are active during the night and that is when they mostly make their kill so avoid being in the wild at night, if you have to be very observant.

 “Hyenas are nocturnal animals and hunt at night, so when in the wild be very careful and observant of time”

#2. Check your behavior in their presence

play A clan of hyenas eating a buffalo, (YouTube)


Jim says if you meet hyenas during daytime in most cases they will be running away because they can’t see well during daytime,

“in most probably they won’t even see you so one thing to do first is don’t panic and then look at the direction they are heading and you will be safe”

The second thing Jim advices is if you encounter an hyena don’t shout

“Knowing the psychology of hyenas too will save your life because most people when they see hyenas begin shouting and in the process attract their attention and unknowingly invite an attack so know they are nocturnal and active during the night and can’t see well during daytime”

#3. Crouch on the ground and pretend you are not human

play Spotted hyenas mating (msuhyenas)


This may sound strange but wild animals usually take time before they attack and unless they smell your scent they won’t different you with a tree stump.

 “Crawling like an animal in most cases is just to confuse them you know wild animals have what you called conditional reflex so they won’t be able to detect whether this is an animal, a human being or a stump of a tree because they have bad eye sight during day time”

#4. Be on the look out

play a clan of hyenas on the look out (loindelafoule)


Yes! Hyenas don’t normally hunt during the day but that doesn’t give you the luxury to throw all caution in the wind after all you are in their territory and nature as a way of springing surprises.

Hyena’s can be infected with rabies which may alter their behavior making them roam during day time so it is always advisable to be on the lookout.

“There are times they could be strained and could be suffering from rabies, we have heard cases of hyenas where they have killed people during daytime so the best thing is observe their movements, when you see that they want to attack you that is when you can either begin running away or climbing a tree but don’t shout first”

#5. Check wind direction

play Hyena cub (Pinterest)


This goes without saying when in the wild always check the direction of the wind to avoid your scent landing in some wild animal nostrils and inviting an attack in the process.

There are simple ways to know the direction of wind while in the wild.

“It is the same thing like when an elephant detects something unusual they don’t act very fast they first lift their trunk in the air trying to identify the smell and you will realize when they build confidence they will just run away they can only attack on a limited occasions and when flight is no longer an option so they have to fight”

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